Erdoğan’s top election rival establishes new party

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President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s top rival in Turkey’s 2018 election announced on Tuesday that he had formed a new party that he plans to lead in the next campaign, Agence France-Presse reported.

Muharrem İnce represented the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) when he picked up 30.6 percent of the vote against Erdoğan’s 52.6 percent in Turkey’s last national polls.

He proved to be a powerful orator who built up a solid support base despite the snap polls being announced just months in advance.

But the 56-year-old then fell out with CHP leaders and unsuccessfully challenged current chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu for the left-leaning party’s leadership post.

İnce has done little to hide his political ambitions since his strong performance in 2018.

He brandished his secular brand of nationalism in a nationwide tour of the mostly Muslim country dubbed the “Motherland Movement in 1,000 days” in 2020.

İnce called his new party Memleket Partisi (Homeland Party) and accused Erdoğan’s government of “looting” the state.

“We are going to transform, change Turkey,” İnce told his supporters during an outdoor rally in the capital Ankara.

“The current authorities cannot be trusted to offer a single solution to our country’s problems.”

The next presidential election is expected to be held in June 2023.

Erdoğan’s support has eroded since 2018 because of a sharp depreciation in the value of the lira and high unemployment. But he still comfortably leads all potential rivals in head-to-head opinion polls.

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